Richard Robinson

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As producer, Richard Robinson's main credential is doing Lou Reed's first solo album, and generally aiding Reed in making the transition from ex-Velvet Underground leader to solo star. At the beginning…
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As producer, Richard Robinson's main credential is doing Lou Reed's first solo album, and generally aiding Reed in making the transition from ex-Velvet Underground leader to solo star. At the beginning of the 1970s, Robinson was hardly the kind of industry vet one might have assumed would qualify for work with an artist of Reed's stature. He had done records for the Flamin' Groovies and Hackamore Brick, both cultish back-to-basics bands that drew huzzahs from some rock critics, and have in retrospect been lauded by some writers as vague antecedents of new wave, as the groups ran counter to the more psychedelic and progressive trends of the day. At the time, however, they were just little-known bands and LPs. And Reed, actually, was not too famous himself, the Velvet Underground having sold few records, and their international cult having yet to develop into the monster it eventually became.

Robinson had also been involved in other media, working as a rock writer for Go magazine, and doing a radio show on New York's WNEW. With his wife (and fellow rock writer) Lisa Robinson, and Lenny Kaye, he started the music magazine Rock Scene, one of the less serious-minded rock publications of the '70s. Richard Meltzer once wrote that Lisa Robinson would throw parties for Reed with the purpose of ingratiating the Robinson couple with the singer/songwriter, and then getting him on the comeback trail as a solo artist, with Richard Robinson as producer. It was a groupie-like situation, but the benefits did run both ways. Reed was in a state of lethargy, not doing much of anything for months after leaving the Velvet Underground in 1970, and needed some motivation to rebuild his musical career as a soloist. And Richard Robinson did get to co-produce (with Reed) Reed's first album, Lou Reed, in London for RCA in 1972. The record, however, was underproduced and did not get the most out of the material, which included leftovers from the Velvet Underground era that had not made it onto the Velvets' four studio LPs, such as "Lisa Says," "I Can't Stand It," "Walk and Talk It," and "Ocean." Oddly, supporting musicians on the album included Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe of Yes, as well as veteran British session drummer Clem Cattini. For his next album, Reed let Robinson loose and worked with David Bowie, resulting in the much more successful Transformer.

The irascible Reed was not done with Robinson, however, and worked with him again on Street Hassle, one of the performer's better late-'70s albums. Robinson's most notable other production jobs were of the Flamin' Groovies' Teenage Head and David Johansen's first solo album. Richard and Lisa Robinson were active throughout the '70s as rock writers and general scenemakers in the New York rock world. As of 1999, Richard Robinson was marketing magic products and developing websites about magic and for magicians.